tv MSNBC Special Coverage MSNBC October 3, 2012 11:30pm-2:00am PDT
and yet my faith and confidence in the american future is undiminished. and the reason is because of its people. because of the woman i met in north carolina who decided at 55 to go back to school because she wanted to inspire her daughter and now has a job from that new training that she's gotten, because of a company in minnesota who was willing to give up salaries and perks for their executives to make sure they didn't layoff workers during a rescission. the auto workers that you meet in detroit take such pride in building the best cars in the world. not just because of a paycheck, but because it gives them a sense of pride, that they're helping to build america. the question is now, how do we build on those strengths, and everything that i've tried to do and everything that i'm proposing for the next four years, in terms of our education system, developing american energy or making sure we're closing loopholes for companies that are shipping jobs overseas or focusing on companies creating jobs here in the united
states, or closing our deficit in a balanced way, all those things are designed to make sure that the american people, their genius, their grit, their determination is channelled and they have an opportunity to succeed. and everybody is getting a fair shot and everybody is doing a fair share and playing by the same rules. you know, four years ago i said that i'm not a perfect man and i wouldn't be a perfect president and that's probably a promise that governor romney thinks i've kept. but i also promised that i would fight every single day on behalf of the american people, the middle class and all those who are striving to get into the middle class. i've kept that promise and if you vote for me, i promise i'll fight just as hard in the second term. >> governor romney? >> thank you jim, mr. president and thank you for tuning in this
evening. this is an important election and i'm concerned about america. i'm concerned about the direction america has been taking over the last four years. i know this is bigger than an election about the two of us as individuals. it's bigger than our respective parties. it's an election about the course of america. what kind of america do you want to have for yourself and for your children. and there really are two very different paths that we began speaking about this evening and over the course of this month we'll have two more presidential debates and a vice presidential debate. but they lead in different directions and it's not just looking to our words that you have to take into evidence to where they go. you can look at the record. there's no question in my mind if the president were to be re-elected you'll continue to see a middle class squeeze with incomes going down and prices going up. i'll get incomes up again. you'll see chronic unemployment. we've had 43 straight months with unemployment above 8%. if i'm president i will help create 12 million new jobs in
this country with rising incomes. if the president is re-elected, became care will be fully installed. in my view that's going to mean a while different way of life. your going to see health preemus go up by some $2500 per family. if i'm elected we'll put in place the kinds of principles i put in place in my state and allow each state to get people insured and focus on getting the cost of health care down. if the president were to be re-elected, you're going to see a $716 billion cut to medicare. you'll have 4 million people who will lose medicare advantage. you'll have hospital providers that will no longer accept medicare patients. i'll restore that $716 billion to medicare. and finally, military. the president's re-elected you'll see dramatic cuts to the military. the secretary of defense has said these would be devastating. i will not cut our commitment to our military. i will keep america strong and get america's middle class working again.
thank you jim. >> thank you governor, thank you mr. president. >> the next debate will be on thursday october 11th. for now from the university of denver, i'm jim lehrer, thank you and good night. >> that's the end of the first >> that's the end of the first presidential debate between governor romney of massachusetts and president obama. you see both men being greeted by their wives on stage. even this portion of the debate is negotiated ahead of time by the campaigns in terms of which members of their family will be joining them on stage. this is, these these are negotiated down to this level of detail. in terms of how the overall debate unfolded, i personally do
not know who won this debate. i do feel that we saw this debate format die a very painful death on camera tonight. the contrast between the candidates was stylistic as much as substantive. president obama i think calm and basically explanatory tonight. governor romney, more hyper, and i don't mean that in a negative way, just sort of more amped, more assertive. and that manifests in a way that the debate format was just dismantled. the format and i think the moderator, with all due respect to mr. lehrer dismantled. this is one of those debates, you could predict the score more by time of possession in terms of who was speaking more. then you could by any other individual plays.
let me bring in steve schmidt who is a senior strategist. what's your overall assessment? >> i think it was a great night for mitt romney. i think the doom and gloom that's been hanging over the romney campaign, republicans in general has lifted tonight. i think that the democratic advance which began literally a month ago when clint eastwood walked out on stage ended tonight. i think the race is going to tighten. i think mitt romney was in command of this from the beginning. i'm not sure that he lost an exchange during the entire debate. a startling performance in my view and just the context of how good mitt romney was tonight. >> i thought that in terms of individual exchanges i think what may have been most notable, there wasn't i think a single direct attack against mitt romney from president obama. however, they substantively dealt with policy matters.
>> he was looking down tonight. he was passive. he was abstract in his answers. mitt romney was talking about real people, giving real examples. i thought he was clear. he was concise. i think the president was muddled tonight. this earlier. when you're the incumbent president in the united states, you're not used to be challenged and pushed in the way you get challenged and pushed in these debates and i think it was every bit for the president as bad a performance add george w. bush had in his first debate against john kerry. >> the president had an opportunity tonight. he created a problem for himself on social security tonight. he agrees with mitt romney. every liberal in this country knows that mitt romney wants to privatize social security down the road. and to do a deal with the devil on that would be the wrong thing to do. i think the president created a big problem for himself. i don't think he explained himself very well on the economy. i thought he was off his game.
i was stunned tonight. rash elyou just mentioned about time, the president needs to get in and fight for that time. there's people that expect him to fight for that time. >> i thought the one thing that mitt romney did tonight that he has not done for the duration of the campaign and was very effective was just lop off the right wing of his party. he didn't care about them tonight. if something was popular, more money for community schools, he was for that. it didn't matter if it would make the right wing, how. whenever the president named a popular policy, more spending on education, more money on medicare, he was for it and he would attack the president for things that were unpopular. so the question becomes can you effectively tie mitt romney to the republican party and its core commitments, both how it acts in the house and the things he has said during the republican debates. and that never really happened tonight.
but those of course are the facts of the matter. the idea that mitt romney won't cut taxes on people at the high end of the income scale apreposterous. i think you would agree. obviously if the republicans get into power they are going to cut taxes at the high income and he got on stage tonight and said no. >> romney's problem is that this debate is in 2012, not 1812. we have things we can hit a button to show what he has said before. no doubt mitt romney was at his best tonight but his best is not good enough. when you look at the fact that he's saying that taxes will not go up on the middle class, yet he is proposing all the way through this campaign, dealing with deductions in terms of mortgage investments, dealing with deductions in terms of charity, it will in fact go up on the middle class and a much lower tax rate for the rich. the fact will not bear him out. when he stood there all night advocating states' rights across
the board, what is that saying to women about who is going to decide on women's issues? what is that saying to minorities t immigration? this man went back to the 19th century on states' rights all night long. when we hear him talk about things that are patently contradictory to his position, what i'm surprised is he cares so much for the poor, so much for the disadvantaged. would that be the 47% that he said who were moochers and had no responsibility? is this the 47% that he had a damascus road experience walking up to that tonight? so his problem is not going to be barack obama or leer, his problem is going to be mitt romney. because when they play romney as opposed to the romney tonight, he's going to look like a a flip flopper. >> the list of things that were
not discussed tonight in a night that was all about domestic policy. no discussion of the 47%, no discussion of union rights, no discussion of women's rights, bain, abortion, romney's jobs record in massachusetts even as he kept bringing up massachusetts over and over. chris, what did you think? >> well, this tonight wasn't an msnbc debate, was it? it just wasn't. it had none of the things you mentioned. it didn't mention all of the key fighting points of this campaign. and certainly there was no bobby kennedy in the green room before barack obama came out tonight. i don't know what he was doing there. he had his head down. he was enduring rather than fighting. romney came out with a campaign. he was going to be aggressive. nothing to do with the words he spoke. here's my question for obama.
i know he likes to say he doesn't watch cable television, but maybe he should start. i don't know how he let romney get away with the crap he throughout tonight about social security. he said emergency room. the latest thing we got from romney because he said so, you know what i want to do with people when they're poor, shove them in the emergency room? why didn't obama say that? you talk about social security and medicare people? they're part of your 47%, you want to drop them from the list of eligible americans. you don't have any care for these people, we've got it on tape governor. what you think of these people. don't come out here and pretend that you care about old people because you met somebody at the campaign event. where was obama tonight? he should watch -- well not just "hardball", rachel, he should watch you, the reverend al, lawrence, there's a hot debate going on in this country, here on this network is where we're having the debate. we have our knives out we go after the people and the facts. what was he doing tonight? he went in there disarmed. he was wait an hour and a half, i think i can get through this
thing. where as romney. i loved the split screen, staring at obama, addressing him. he did it just right. i'm coming at an incumbent. i've got to beat him. and i don't care what this guy moderator whatever he think he ises because i'm going to ignore him. what was romney doing? he was winning. >> he was winning tonight. that's my thought. >> you give him five more of these nights, forget it. >> it puts the pressure on the president. >> obama should wash msnbc. he will learn something every night. this stuff we're watching, this is like first grade to most of us. we know all of this stuff. >> i was in front of a crowd last night in denver, colorado and i know they're stunned. i can feel it. the president tonight was disappointing when he allowed mitt romney to talk about $716 billion in medicare and the
president did not come out and explain it and go after it. i thought mitt romney tonight was in his wheel house when he was talking about the economy. >> paul ryan is cutting 716 for medicare. the exact same number in his budget which was passed by the republican house and the president never mentioned it. >> it does remind you that the last debate that mitt romney was seven months ago and the last debate that barack obama had was four years ago. and the people he's used to sparring with are reporters. >> how did he prepare? how did the president prepare for this? >> we got 45 minutes in before we got a ryan budget mentioned. mitt romney made the choice to put ryan on the ticket. when we look at where the polls started to separate before the convention, right around when ryan was put on the ticket. when do the numbers on medicare and the polling start to go upside down for the republicans? when ryan is put on the ticket. yet we get 45 minutes through
the debate before paul ryan is mentioned. he's the incarnation of the modern republican party which will inherit the power that you give to mitt romney since they will be governing from the house most likely. that is the key thing to remind people there is a governing of the republican party that already exists. it's like nailing gel oto the wall. no. you are tied to an actual institutional govern body which actually has a record, which actually is going to propose and vote for things that you actually put on your ticket. they are you and you are they and that connection never really happened. >> and it's not in the future. it's not hypothetical. he said if the ryan claim i would sign it. >> i want to go to lawrence o'donnell who is in denver in the spin room. >> i'm in the spin room now where marco rubio is the star. he's telling them how great governor romney did tonight. i think we have to recognize
here that we do not declare the winner of this debate. the voters are going to make that declaration. we're going to find out not tomorrow. we're not going to know for three or four days. we will see a first round of polling on this, minimum of four days from now. so we go into it with our personal expectations and our personal notions about which candidate should have said what when the other candidate said that, but the verdict is not ours. the verdict is delivered by the american people and you have to ask yourself what did mitt romney do here to close these polling gaps that he is the victim of at the moment in the battle ground states and in the national polls. and you have to find exactly where were those lines if you're making the theory that mitt romney was some kind of big winner here tonight. the president clearly came in with what i would call a presidential strategy in the debate. and they may, at team obama, look at that tonight and say we've got to change that. and that strategy was the
president was not going to step down from the presidential podium into that courtroom and become a prosecutor. mitt romney was happy to take on the role of the smiling prosecutor, which i think we can all agree was exactly what he should have done. tactically what we saw mitt romney do makes sense from where we're sitting certainly, and when you are sitting where we're sitting, watching what the president was doing in the debate, being careful, protecting his lead, you might say, you can look at that and say that's not going to work in the next two debates. and i think team obama is probably looking at that right now and saying okay, we have to step into this debate. we can't stand back and i would differ with you, rachel about the moderator point in this debate. i actually like this kind of debate because the moderator is not a factor. he leaves it up to the debaters to make it a debate. mitt romney's team knew that and
mitt romney came into this debate determined to make it a debate. no one brought up green jobs. the moderator didn't bring up green jobs. mitt romney did to use it as a tool against the president. the president has to realize that his side and he is under the same obligation to drive the debate from his side himself. the moderator is not going to drive this debate. >> that's exactly right. that's sort of the point that i was trying to make about how the different approaches of romney and obama played very differently with this sort of a format and that romney just rolled over the format and made it about everything he wanted it to be. everything on domestic policy on which he is the weakest was just avoided because he drove the agenda of the debate. lehrer got rolled over by romney again and again. and it was the president's fault that he did not do the same thing. >> one more quick point. mitt romney is very, very hard
to anticipate. we've been asking for months, how is mitt romney going to explain the deduction side of his $5 trillion tax cut. he's going to do a $5 trillion tax cut. he says he's going to pay for it by closing deductions. who among us anticipated that mitt romney's answer would be, i will not do a $5 trillion tax cut? that is not -- i could not anticipate it. i don't know if anyone on the obama team anticipated it, but that was a stunning way for mitt romney to get out of his obligation to answer how he's going to pay for this tax cut. he simply lied outright about the size of his tax cut. >> over and over and over again. it is not complicated math here. this isn't one of those fact check things that you have to look things up and get a graph. mitt romney is proposing a 20% across the board cut in tax rates. that costs $5 trillion. and he's saying it doesn't cost that. like that's the only thing you need to know about what mitt
romney is proposing. you don't need a phd to know that's the factual implication from what he's talking about. >> but see, that's my point. i agree that it's going to be two or three days before we get the verdict. so i would suggest to the court that he made a good testimony, but he will be indicted for perjury, because he's lying. when you take what he said tonight and compare it to his proposals to what he said, to what he has represented, to the ryan plan, it does not match what he said tonight. so how are we going to be impressed with someone that made a very passionate and a very articulate series of lies tonight. >> he didn't make a case for his record, but he made a case for being president despite his record. >> and every time someone said, when tt president said you would do this, he would say no, i wouldn't. but we've got video that you would. and when somebody brought up
something popular, yes, i would do that. but that's against what you and your party has represented. so i'm not going to set up in the courtroom, if that's what we're using as the analogy and be swayed by a witness that i know that when you present the tape, he's going to look like what he is. >> isn't it president obama's job to do that in the debate though? >> absolutely. that's the point. that's the frustration. where was the president tonight? i think chris is right he's got to be watching cable. he was not properly prepared for this tonight. he was afraid to call out romney because he didn't want to look angry. what you were talking about earlier in the pregame show here, al. the fact is he has faced obstruction. he was afraid to use ta term tonight. he wouldn't go down that road. he was afraid to use the ryan plan as a manifest of what these people want to do to this country. it was playing soft.
he was in a prevent defense big time. >> wait a second. wait a second. we went through this -- >> the first day. the reason the president couldn't meet on the first day because they were meeting the night before saying they were going to block everything. >> let me just say this before. during the 90 million zee bates that happened in the democratic primary, particularly when it was down to the president and hillary clinton, every third night people said he has to be more aggressive, he has to come after her. it was the same kind of critique of his performance. and it did get more pointed over time, but b, the number one value that the obama team sees as their candidates' chief virtue is his personal likability and they will do nothing to risk that. so this was an intentional strategy -- >> do you think obama gained people tonight? >> i don't know. >> this is about winning. this is a huge election. you can't go out there and say. they want the jugular on this guy. >> i know.
but they have -- all i'm saying. i'm channelling them for a moment. i tend to agree more with you. but they have said from the beginning we know the liberals want the jugular but we will not give it to to you. the reason people like this man is because he's not the kind of person who ever goes to the jugular. >> so he left the impression tonight that he's really going to fight when it comes to social security? >> i didn't think so. >> i do think one of the remarkable things about tonight is the fact that the president actually talked for four minutes longer than mitt romney over the course. >> and my impression was opposite. >> over the depat which just shows how dominant mitt romney was in controlling the conversation. i do think when you look at this race, barack obama had the ability to come in here tonight and i think basically put the race away. he had the ability, mitt romney was on the ropes. even a performance that ended in a draw would have effectively ended the campaign. it would have frozen it in place. it would have made it very very
difficult for mitt romney to have any dynamic movement in the polls. and i think you're going to see movement in the polls towards mitt romney. i now think there is an enormous amount of pressure on joe biden next week as he goes into the debate with paul ryan. after that 2004 first debate debacle it was dick cheney. it will be interesting to see how this sets up. >> lawrence? >>governor, you saw your candidate get up there. some people feel mitt romney dominated by bringing more energy to it. how did you see it? >> well, i think the president has always had a certain dignified reserve and i think that's one of the admirable qualities about the president. as i was watching the debate i think what mitt romney really needed tonight was a big game changer. qualities about the president. as i was watching the debate i think what mitt romney really needed tonight was a big game
changer. he needed to address the observation that he hasn't had any specifics for all of these great promises. you know, $5 trillion in cuts but it won't add to the deficit, trust me i'll tell you later. eat cake, lose weight. so i don't think he got the game changer he needed tonight. i do think the president was particularly strong, though, in getting governor romney to admit that he does want to turn medicare into a voucher program and i also believe the president was good in drawing the contrast between the two economic approaches, the two economic
opportunity economy, i thought that exchange was lucid. i don't think it was a game changer tonight. the president handled himself with a more dignified reserve. when governor romney was tested, he got kind of testy. and i thought that the president maintained his cool throughout and did well. >> what about the president's cool and the president's dignified reserve as you put it, do you think he's going to have to change that style going forward in these debates? >> i don't believe so. i think that -- >> if you could coach him on the next debate, if you could do ten minutes of coaching on the next debate, based on what you saw tonight, what would you tell him to do differently? >> oh, i don't know. i think that the president has to keep doing what he's doing. i think he has to be truthful about why he's made the choices for us that he has made. i think he has to keep talking about the fact that we're moving forward and not back. 30 months in a row of positive job growth. and i think he has to continue to press governor romney on the fact that he's not putting forth any of the specifics about how he would do these various things he's promised.
he went down the list of the things he would repeal. he didn't tell us what he would replace them with. it is a choice right now between two alternatives and i think president obama's is based in the realitity of the decisions we must make together as a people if we want a better and stronger economy and those are not the sort of prescriptions governor romney has. >> what about next week's vice presidential debate? do you think there's something in this debate that joe biden should be paying attention to? >> i think he should continue to press the romney/ryan ticket on their specific plans and their specific promises. a $5 trillion tax cut is going to have to come on the backs of the middle class whether in the form of more expensive college tuition or more expensive medicare or more expensive taxes. they're in this la la land just saying trust us we've got you covered. that's not the way the world works.
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specifics as president obama ever gave in 2008 when he ran for president, probably a lot more. >> mr. giuliani, just to make sure how much news was made tonight, am i still correct that the romney campaign's official position is they want to extend indefinitely or permanently the push tax cuts on the table, which would cut taxes for high income individuals? i don't think that's a matter of debate yet mitt romney seemed to repudiate that. >> if you extend the bush tax cuts, you keep taxes where they are. if you don't extend the bush tax cuts, you raise taxes. >> they're set to expire. it was your party that set them to expire i would add. i didn't to that, the republican party decided to do that. >> it's an accounting measure.
i'm paying a certain level of tax this year. next year if the bush tax -- >> you make a lot of money -- you were -- it's a very large tax cut because you are, to your great credit, a higher earning individual and you'll see a large bounty from this tax cut. that's the question on the table. >> stop the silliness. it's true for everyone. let me finish my apc instead of yelling and screaming at me. the reality is, if the bush tax cuts expire, for every american next year their taxes go up and for every american, if they don't expire, their taxes remain exactly the same. so it's ridiculous to talk about that as a tax increase. it is not. not on any american.
rich one or anybody paying taxes. we know a lot of americans don't pay taxes. for every american that pays taxes, if the bush tax cuts expire, their taxes go up. president obama wants to vary that for people at $250,000, that's just the reality of it. >> this is a very important point about the distributional impacts of our tax policy. my understanding is that there had been a difference between mitt romney and the president. that mitt romney wants to make sure he preserves the tax cuts for those at the high end and the president doesn't want to. i want to establish for people watching that is still the case. >> of course it is. mitt romney wants the bush tax cuts -- >> for high income earners. >> for everyone. if you leave those alone, there's no tax increase. if you get rid of the tax cuts for anybody, there will be an
increase. the government is wasting enough money already. i believe in the ronald reagan approach -- if i can finish my answer, you should not feed the beast. let's put the beast on a diet and spend a little less money. >> did the department of homeland security, does that count as feeding the beast or not? >> i have no contract with the department of homeland security. one more try in an attack, doesn't work. never done a contract with the department of homeland security. don't have one planned. don't get any money from the government. >> sure. >> you can try all those attacks that you want. i do private business with private individuals. get no money from the government. want to try another one? >> mayor giuliani, if you're inviting it. the difference is that under mitt romney, rich people will pay a lot less in taxes than
what they would pay under president obama, because president obama would let the bush tax cuts expire for higher earning individuals only. so rich people pay less under romney and more under obama. that is the ultimate answer, right? >> the ultimate answer is if either one get their proposals through. and one of the way our economy grows is if rich people have more money, they hire more people. you should not raise taxes when the economy is in trouble. our economy is in more trouble today. the growth rate last week was a pathetic at 1. 2%. >> very much for your time tonight. >> thank you. >> we finally get to the issue that rich people need the money because they create the jobs. i want to bring in ed and al and steve and chris back into this
discussion. i want to bring back chris matthews in denver in terms of hearing the republican spin on this. seeing what seems to be real democratic frustration on this. we're hearing already in terms of the different responses. the romney side is proclaiming victory. the obama campaign does not seem to be doing that. chris? >> when you read "the new york times" tomorrow, you'll see a side bar, strong night for romney. i think it's an objective -- it may be theater, but this is a major campaign event of the entire cycle. maybe the major campaign event treated as a lesson in information or education. it was a campaign event and both sides went at it to win and one side won. i go back to a couple of points. romney was able to get away with something things tonight that he's not been consistent on. he said if you have a preexisting condition and
continuous health care coverage, you would be covered. tonight he said anybody with a preexisting condition, you would get coverage. he's also said that if you're living in an apartment, we don't let you die there, we take you to the emergency room. that's his health care plan. how he was able to come in there tonight and act if he was a born again somebody out of the other universe and not the guy he's been for the last several days is amazing. why obama didn't tag him and say just the other day you said if you don't have continuous coverage you don't get preexisting coverage. why didn't the president ask him to list the deductions that will finance this. explain what makes it not a tax cut, which is these deductions. they're not loopholes. they're not details. they're the heart of the program as romney explains it, which is a trade for lower rates, for
elimination of deductions. so that's the question. why didn't the president probe him aggressively on all the points of recent information? >> that's the point of distinction, whether or not mitt romney is going to be in trouble for having gotten away with a lot of stuff or whether it's the president's problem that he didn't make him answer. >> the president could have said, governor, you want private competition for people over 65 and medicare but you don't want government competition for anybody under 65. there were just some real simple things there the president could have gone at and explained his plan. the president tonight, his strongest pitch tonight was obama care. he did explain all the good things that are taking place. and talked about how he went around the country and this is what the people wanted and it was a consensus of a lot of americans and he wanted to do something about the uninsured. he let romney off the hook too
many times tonight. 47% bain outsourcing, obstruction, all of those things. >> i want to go to david plouf. >> thanks for having me on. >> the overall consensus here from our news the room, from steve schmidt to other liberals sitting here with him is that mitt romney had the stronger performance and that the president seemed unfocused and let mr. romney get away with a lot of factually challenged stuff that he should have been confronted on. what's your take on it? >> i think romney might have had a theatrical aggression. the case the president has been making to the american people, why are voters in ohio and florida concerned about mitt romney? he firmly and proudly doubled down on his plan.
he dishonestly tried to run away from that tonight. in terms of wall street reform, romney said even though reckless behavior on wall street contributed to the recession, i want to roll that back. so we see the entire campaign as one story we're telling and for the american people listening tonight who has the better plan for the middle class, who they can trust to make sure that wall street doesn't wreck our economy again, the president did a good job of laying that out. >> david plouffe, this is al sharpton. i'm one that thinks mr. romney might have made a mistake tonight. i think he was theatrical, but he gave so many answers that will be proven to be untrue.
is it not the strategy of obama campaign to let the -- let mr. romney commit himself to things that will not stand the light of day, including his own former position? as i said before the debate, a rope-a-dope strategy? >> on romney's huge tax cut, which he did dishonestly try to run away from. i think the president did a good job of explaining to the middle class, you're going to pay the burden for a $5 trillion tax cut. that issue has been driving voters in this election and that was intensified tonight. the president was clear about pinning romney down on medicare. as we come out of this debate, we're going to be making sure people understand, and the president said this, romney says he's going to cut loopholes but he won't name them. romney said i'm going to replace obama care. romney said he's going to repeal
wall street reform. as the president said, these are plans that are harm the middle class and our economy. again, i would step back. the drivers in this election, romney's huge tax cut for the wealthy. his support of medicare vouchers. his support of repealing wall street reform. our ad we're running right now, the two arguments the president makes against the romney approach are, he wants a huge tax cut for the wealthy. that's the same trickle down economics and he wants to roll back wall street reform. i don't think anybody in america missed the point the president made that those things are bad for the economy and the middle class. >> why didn't the president mention tonight that we've had 30 months of private sector job growth? that's a heck of a number, considering the fact that there's been so much obstruction coming from the republicans. and even on that, the president seemed timid when it came to pointing out what he's been dealing with, with republicans.
and also the biggest store you since the convention has been the 47%. none of this was mentioned tonight by the president. clear openings to put mitt romney on the defensive. why didn't he do that? >> well, first of all, on the 47%, that's an issue that just about 100% of the country knows about. it's been chewed on. the reason it's called romney's problem is because it wasn't a gaffe, it was a revealing moment in terms of how he views the middle class in this country. so our strategy here was not zingers necessarily. and we're confident that everybody in this country that will vote in election and those that won't understand romney's 47% comment and why it's important. what our strategy was, the president wanted to tell the american people here is my jobs plan, and romney's approach is the wrong approach on taxes, wall street reform, medicare,
health care. voters are taking that election seriously and i think the president made very clear that we're rebounding from a recession, making progress. but there's more progress to be made and if we go back to trickle down economics, which is all romney's offering, that the middle class will be harmed. >> one last question for you. i realize you are a policy guy as much as a candidate guy. but i have to ask you to be candid on this. was there a deliberate strategy to tell the president to not attack mitt romney? he never talked directly to mitt romney and told him that he was being wrong about things. the one time he got closest to that is when he said your strategy is to say never mind about your previous tax plan. that is as close as he got to confronting mitt romney. were you trying to make the president appear softer in terms of his personality so he wouldn't be more alienating and
abrasive? >> not at all, rachel. i would take some issue with that. i think the president was very forceful in challenging mitt romney on why a medicare voucher program could be disastrous. he was forceful on explaining that romney wants to roll back wall street regulations. so i think on those core issues that really matter to voters, again, we didn't enter this debate as an opportunity for a zinger every minute. our approach was a story telling that's consistent with what we did in the convention, what the president will do tomorrow in denver and wisconsin, what we'll do to make sure people understand if you're a middle class voter, you can't trust mitt romney because he will take us back to the same policies, in many cases on steroids, and the president has got a plan to rebuild this economy from the middle out. i don't think voters lost that
tonight. they were very clear that governor romney is trickle down. president obama is middle class out. and that's a debate we look forward to continuing over the next few weeks. >> thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> thank you. >> cnbc news conducted a snap poll of voters who watched the debate. 46% say mitt romney won. 22% say president obama won. and 32% called it a tie. much more ahead, including the take on some of the numbers we heard tonight from mitt romney. >> as president i will sit down on day one with leaders, the democratic leaders, as well as republican leaders. sltz i think governor romney is going to have a first day, going to also appeal obama care.
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signs above their head and start to talk with smiles on their faces. that was obviously the romney people tonight. it took a while for the obama crowd to get out here. and interestingly the one i listened to most carefully, david axelrod, a former reporter that knows he has to make tactical concessions to maintain his credibility with the press core. he said, look, we knew this was going to be a close race. we knew the challenger always benefits from the first debate. we knew romney would be a well-prepared debater, having practiced having done 20 or 25 debates. i thought it was interesting that axelrod saidal that. the consensus in this room from all sides is what you guys have been saying on the air which is that there were lots of missed opportunities for the president. romney was -- has said for months, many months, wait until i get on the stage with the president. wait until i get to confront him
and deal with him face-to-face without the shell of the campaign. without the advertising and so on. and mitt romney delivered in that sense. did he stick to all the facts? no. ezra klein will he explain that? yes. in terms of debate tactics. romney was on the offensive most of the. the president did very well on medicare but for the rest of it -- and obama care, the rest he did not. he missed many chances to correct the record or to ask questions jim leher was practically useless. mr. romney, specifically, what tax loopholes or deductions do you want to get rid of. he didn't ask it. the president should have asked it. that's only one example of many and it was clear to everybody in the room tonight what happened in the debate. >> we just heard from david pluff and ed asked him pointedly, how come the 47%
remarks didn't come up? how come president obama didn't go after that and his response was that, oh, everybody knows about that. 100% of the country knows about that. >> well, i don't think that's right when you're dealing with an audience of 60 million people or so. in a debate. that was, presumably, include a lot of the undecided voters. and the president needed to speak directly to the audience which he didn't do enough of either, tonight. directly to the camera and say, look, we need to hear specifics from this guy. we haven't heard them. the president, it's a classic case of a president kind of showing up and figuring that because he's president, he gets extra points. it didn't work that way tonight and it's a big wake-up call to the obama campaign with 34 days left in the race. >> howard, thank you. chuck todd is with us from the spin room and he's been talking to the democratic side about what their take is on tonight. we've heard a little bit of it on the air and a little more from howard fineman, chuck who are you hearing?
>> very similar. i can tell you they're not being -- they're trying to sugar coat it a little publicly. what do you expect them to do -- that's what a spin room is for but they know they lost and you can hear it in david's voice because he sits there and says -- but long term, when we have a conversation with votersbility mitt romney saying he's not going to raise a single tax to deal with the deficit that he's going to double down on the voucher program with medicare, these will be arguments we win in the long term and he emphasized that term, "long term." sort of the tacid admission. i think they expected the president to do a little better. they told a lot of us he wasn't going to make the mistake president bush made in 2004. i femt like i saw a rerun of bush/kerry, 2004. we had the challenge geared up knowing how to have a good night and had a good night and the sitting president is sitting there going -- i can't believe i have to defend my record on this. i can't believe i have to defend
my record on that missing whaerp obvious points and counterpoints allowing, essentially, mitt romney to run the debate, if you will, with sort of pushing james aside, there was a point that thement was very differential. we'll see it. one of the things the obama folks think will help them long term is they believe that romney came across too hot. we'll see. maybe that was one of their groups telling them that the president is more likable than mitt romney. but i'll tell you, on the idea front, the fact that they debated mitt romney's plans as much as they debated barack obama's record, it automatically elevates with that sort of casual viewer, who's watching this debate, automatically elevates romney as a credible all earn the tifr and that was step one for him. now step go, the president's got to disqualify him and make the case this he shouldn't be fired and romney has to make his case somehow that the president
should be fired. that he didn't do. but step one for romney was becoming a credible alternative and i think he did that. >> thank you, chuck. , you were talking about how this looked very much to you like george w. bush and john kerry. is it inevitable? is there a way a president cannot do this? can you mortgage president obama in ap second debate behaving differently? >> i think david pluff is steady and they understand. what david was previewing, i think, is the line of attack you'll see in the second debate. i think it's almost unthinkable to think the president is going to come into the second debate passive and unprepared in the manner that he was tonight. i think there's going to be a lot of sparks in the second debate. one of the things that's interesting that's true about presidential debates is in the flash poll. that number will spread over the next 48 hours because people who are undecided or who believe it will -- is a tie, will side with the conventional wisdom that
romney's the winner. they're going to default to agreeing with the consensus view that he won the debate. so you're going to see a tightening in the poll numbers very much. barack obama came that this debate tonight with the race in his total and absolute control. he let mitt romney back in the game. mitt romney campaign has made a lot of mistakes over the last month. i think a lot of them are erased so we'll see going forward, can mitt romney keep momentum? for the first time since the republican convention, he has a bit of offense now. a bit of momentum. we'll see if he can maintain it. >> i don't think there's any doubt. you said earlier, this is the first time both of them are on the stage for everybody to see. howard, the profound point, a lot of people and novice news consumers that don't follow the day-to-day bump and grind of the campaign that are that are going to make some judgments tonight. i do not think mitt romney looked angry tonight. irthink he looked determined and like a guy that really wanted the job. i mentioned on the commercial, president obama looked like he
wasn't sure if he wanted this or not. i was stunned. so many missed opportunities and so many things that i think he needed to call romney out on that would have gotten romney off his game. >> ed, you've spent quite a bit of time with the president. i've seen you interact with the president face-to-face, eye to eye. from your sense of what he's like do you think the president responds to a night like tonight by coming out a changed man in the second debate or do you think this is what he has to offer as a debater. >> i'll go to the first answer. tonight the president didn't seem like he was on sure footing the first answer. he didn't seem to come out ochl confident and to use a basketball metaphor, he didn't act like the point guard and the guy calling the shots and i think mitt romney did. romney took a page out of obama's playbook tonight in his first answer. he personalized it and talked about an american he met on the road. that's what obama is so good at.
and so i think you're looking at a guy who's very well prepared. president obama has been in plenty of debates and he has plenty of things that he can talk about to direct positive thinking about his campaign. and i think tonight, unfortunately, it pains me to say it, i think there are some lefties out there that are probably questioning it right now. i'll say it again. it's a story that we're going to have to cover. we need definition from the president on exactly where he's going to go on social security. this is a huge opening. >> i think it's very important before we close the chapter on this, mitt romney made, mark my word on this ed, very serious mistakes tonight. he committed himself to things that starting next week, with joe biden is going to haunt ryan and haunt him in these next three debates. >> i don't see that.
>> i think whatever your judgment or my judgment or anyone's judgment on president obama, it will come back to serve him well that mitt romney committed himself to things that the right and he are not going to live up to. a fish would not get caught if they kept their mouth shut. he spoke often tonight. he's going to have to back it up in three debates. >> i'll let chris matthews in denver jump in on this, chris? >> completely agree with the reverend. one big one is i don't how people don't hear this stuff. he said he was going to take his health care plan up in massachusetts which was based on the individual mandate, and apply those principles nationally. what is obama -- what has he done? the exact same thing. the principle, the individual mandate nationwide. he said it tonight as if -- was anybody listening to romney? i agree with you reverend al. this is the kind of commitment he made to move to the center
and get away from the right wing but he's here by committing himself to a nationwide replication of the massachusetts plan which is what obama did. it's an extraordinary statement he made tonight. >> extraordinary statement for which he did not get pinned down. at the time that 50 or 60 million people were watching. so he can get pinned down on it later in the follow-ups and when people write this stuff up and we talk about it on our shows but in the moment when it kale down to talking about whether or not mitt romney was making sense for america, president obama made it seem like he was when factually speaking, he wasn't. that's the mark. i take your point that president obama's been in plenty of debates but he's been doing for four years something that has absolutely nothing to do with debating while romney has been doing a lot. we've soon barack obama debate better than he did tonight. has the presidency changed himself so much that he can't go back to being a good debater? this is what he's like now? >> that's the $64 question. if what we saw tonight is what we see in the next two debates,
president obama is going to be in serious trouble. how is this going to play in ohio? he has to make the case to the middle class that he's headed in the right direction with the economy. >> not one time did he say i want the american people to know we've added private-sector jobs for the last 30 months and we're headed in the right direction. how hard is that to say? is that hard? >> ezra klein is coming up to check some of the money numbers that we did hear tonight. we're mad about the numbers that were not articulated as we check the one that were. our live coverage of the first presidential debate. stay with us. >> this tax plan. and now, five weeks before the election, he's saying that his big bold idea is, never mind.
>> we'll focus on getting the cost of health care down. if the president, tore re-elected you'll see a $1706 million lost to medicare. i'll restore the 716 billion to medicare. >> mitt romney closed the debate with a list and numbers and what sounded like a lot of detail given that he's been criticized by fellow republicans. even by his own surrogates for not being concrete enough on the campaign trail. our own ezra klein knows from these things and i have to ask for your take on that. >> i thought it was fascinating. i thought that moment right there at the end, the closing statements were really indicative of the whole thing. you heard five or six policy
specific but from obama, that was the debate in a nutshell. romney sounded very specific on issue after issue. and the one that really caught my eye was the one on his health care plan. >> let's let the governor explain what you would do with obama care is repealed. how would you replace it? >> it's a lengthy description. >> he repeated that a couple of times that he had a lengthy description. the description he's talking about on his website is 396 words. it's about half the length of an average op ed column. it's not lengthy or specific but he got away with it without today'sing a challenge and that's what you had for a lot of the debate tonight. take what he was talking about in the pre-existing health care plan portion of his health care plan. that would leave about 89 million people without protection for pre-existing conditions most of what's in there is already in there but it sounded like a specific. and that way, the debate felt like an inversion of what we've seen thus far in the campaign which is that obama is i much
more specific policy agenda which leads to him getting attacked on specifics. romney is much more vague which gets him attacked more on being vague about what he's actually going to do and tonight romney was able to make it feel like it flipped and he was age to hide in the pockets of the vague js he created. when they were arguing act taxes and in particular, whether the tax cut romney has will cost $5 trillion that was. entire debate over a particular missing number in romney's plan which is, if you pay for this how will you do it? romney saying not giving specifics but he said simultaneously that it will be paid for but he's not actually telling you anything he'll cut to do so. >> ezra, let me ask you to clarify on that point. what seems amazing there was that it femt and i think this is maybe what possibly rattled the president here and it certainly is the way the president's campaign responded online during
the debate. it felt like mitt romney was abandoning his one big economic idea. his one big major economic proposal is a 20% tax cut across the board, which has the consequence of taking $5 trillion revenue of government and by saying i don't have any $5 trillion tax cut in mind, that's not my plan, i don't know where you came up with this, i think zlfs a moment on the obama said and i feet it here, observing, he's dropped his big idea on the economy, which is supposed to be his big issue. do you think what he was saying is that not that i'm changing my mind but it doesn't mean what basic math says it means? >> i didn't mean it this way. i think romney has been consistent if not clear. he said from the beginning. i have this big tax cut plan but i'll pay for it but i won't tell you how now. so running mate any is saying you need to seshlly score. believe me when i say i'm going to pay for it. this takes a plan which appears to cost $5 trillion and makes it cost zero dollars once we factor in the i'm going to pay for it part of my sentence. i think the president was
understandably, somewhat frustrated by the fact that that's not how you do legislating. romney could come back and say you don't tell people -- i have to negotiate this with congress. he said clearly how many taxes he'll cut. he said the popular part of the plan without negotiating any of it with congress. the idea that he'll go back and only negotiate the hard parts and that will work seems a little bit unlikely but he's able to hide in the dilemma of his plan, have his tax cuts or they cannot increase the deficit as he promised or they can't cut taxes on the rich but he can't do all three as once so, so instead of saying which of the three he won't do at once, he hides behind it. >> and the president tried to make that clear. he did math on tv and what's that when was trying to explain. i don't know if it came across. i don't know if it worked. >> the only thank you can say concretely is what was in the ryan budget you said you would
sign? that's the real thing. that's the only thank you can nail him on. milts doesn't have a governing record as president of the united states. so there's this asymmetry baked into the cake.only way to respo because mitt romney has now shown that his strategy is just to dodge anything that says this is the result of your plan to say, oh, no, no, no, you don't understand my plan. is to tie him to the stuff they've concretely done. >> i'm painting this house blue. when i'm done the house won't be blue. wait a second, you're painting the house blue? no. i said i'm going to paints the house and the house will not be blue. so, like, and you're lying. and when that works, that's a bad debate. all right? our coverage of the first presidential debate of 2012 continues in our little blue house right after this.
>> obama care is on my list. i use that name with -- >> one note from the bach about the 2008 campaign about debates. mr. pluff put it in his book published tonight, mr. obama was not a strong debater and derided the whole exercise of boiling down complex answers to 20 or 30-second sound bytes his staff was nervous when he faced mrs. clinton one of the most formidable figures in the party. 24 could be an unmitigated disaster, said mr. axelrod but in tend, mrs. obama did win. the minimalist verdict, that
could have been a lot worse. that was the view of obama as a debater from the men who have stuck with him for this current campaign are thinks first campaign when he was trying to win the nomination. certainly we're hearing the obama said trying to spin this as maybe not as bad as everybody thinks it was from the democratic side but it seems likes everybody thinks it was pretty bad from the democratic side. as the night goes on in terms of your overall big-picture response, are your feelings of this being mitigated at all by the passage of time or is this as bad as you officially thought? >> no. i root for the president to do well. i thought he would come in with a strategy and it looked like the strategy of, not rope-a-dope but very defensive. he seemed like he wanted to endure the evening rather than relish it. romney came in to enjoy the evening and you can see it by his body language and he addresses the president, and i thought respectively. he did call him mr. president and extended the good wishes to
their family on their 20th anniversary. a lot of good courtesy but it was directly affirmative. as schultz said. obama kept his head down and looked like he was writing notes for a future debate some day down the road. he wasn't really comfortable. somebody addressing him as an equal. this has been said throughout the evening. does the presidency spoil your ability to beat someone on equal terms. all that hail to the chief, does that stop you from knowing what it's like to coach a person look you in the eye and say -- i'm taking you down? aye going to stop me? it's like the schoolyard fight. this guy wants your job and you're president. so i think a lot of this has to be dealt with. he has two weeks. he has a week off. two weeks to get ready and we'll have a different moderator. i hope the moderator does it a little differently. >> steve schmidt heading to the debate next week and the week after that. what needs to happen on the republican side to sustain what
they did tonight? >> mitt romney has a first off, do something they haven't done thus far and that means making no mistakes between tonight and next thursday, because he does have momentum now. you're going to have a lot of republicans out there who have had heap restored. that's been missing over the last week and that, the stakes are enormous next week for paul ryan and joe biden. he needs to go out there and fundamentally do what dick cheney did for george works bush which was to arrest the over coming that they had with kerry victory in the first debate so i think the debate next week will be incredible, great moment and good entertainment. >> the vice-presidential debate will always be fun. it will be incredibly high stakes now because of this. >> i want to thank you all. we're going to be back here one
>> i got five business. i'm used to people saying something that's not always true but keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping i'll believe it. >> welcome back to our special edition of ""hardball."" and we're beginning on the east coast at midnight, our continuing live coverage of the first presidential debate between barack obama and governor mitt romney. both candidates mp promised an
evening of sharp contrast but the president focused on the middle class. >> ultimately it will be up to the voters, to you, which path we should take. are we going to double down on the the top-down economic policies that helped to get us into this mess or do we embrace a new economic patriotism that says, america does best when the middle class does best? >> mitt romney promised the administration of lower taxes, less regulation. smaller government. >> the president has a view very similar to the view he had when he ran four years ago. the bigger government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more, if you will, trickle-down government. >> romney was powerful throughout the debate and almost looking at the president as his prey dominating his responses and dominating, it seems, the moderator, jim leher. >> the president began the segment so i get the last word. >> you get the first word in the next segment. >> he gets the first word of that segment and i get the last word of this comment so let me just make this comment.
>> he seems to relish his chance to go one-to-one with the president of the free world. nor did the president forceally challenge mitt romney's policies or his inconsistencies. romney's classic comment about dismissing the 47% of the country that are under various federal programs. his imgags position, romney's jobs in massachusetts to name a few and i have my own personal list which i'll get to. senator michael beties, a democrat here in his home state and michael steele, the former chairman of the republican national committee. both howard and michael are political msnbc analysts. i'll start with an elected official. the people that worked for the president had to come out and say he did well. everyone else said he didn't. >> i was in the hall so i can say i haven't seen it on tv. but on the substance, in
colorado, we're a third republican and a third democratic and a third independent and we don't like people to say one thing in boston, one in denver and one thing in rural and one thing in urban and i think we heard more of that from mitt romney. >> who called him on that? we went an hour and a half before i went -- a couple days ago he talked about the pre-existing coverage and now you're saying you have a program and i'm going to take nationally based on the principles of massachusetts. >> i'll you another example that infuriates me. this $716 billion medicare issue in ryan's plan. >> the number? >> yeah. romney tonight said the reason he thinks we ought to have a voucher system for medicare is government never does anything efficiently and the first thing he says about the reform is he's taking it back. so here's what we learned about this. $716 billion peel put back in medicare. a $2 trillion increase in defense spending. we don't know the tax policy and i think we know what it is and he won't make cuts to education that's what we learned about
this, in theory, fiscally daub responsible person. i don't know how it was on tv but the substance of this where you say one thing in one place and another inning in another place won't hold up. >> stay on that line. did you see inconsistency nb romney's position? >> what i saw was a mitt romney who came prepared to have a conversation with the president was clearly not prepared to have. we can talk about the degree to which there may have been inconsistency there but, look, this is a debate, one on up with. if my on the is not going to call me out on something that he thinks is inconsistent. it's great for you to do it, chris, after the fact but the president of the united states whos has governed the country for four years and tonight was his night to look the american people in the eye to say with substance not only what he was going to do for the next four but what mitt romney would be doing wrong, and he didn't do that. he blinked. mitt romney came prepared to fight. that was the best i've ever seen him or heard him. he opened up a can of whoop you know what tonight and he delivered it in style.
he delivered it presidentially. the president looked like someone who did not want to be there in that hall looking down at his notes, et cetera. so the substance of it, support senator, i think you're right. but how the american people fed off the debate looking at the time twitter feeds and e-mails is they saw that mitt romney they hadn't seen before and they liked him. >> howard, i only heard about your view that i agreed with. i didn't think the moderator moderated. he didn't follow-up. today moderators are expected to be aggressive. they don't just say a topic. they ask the question. >> if the moderator doesn't do it, i think the president, gently, perhaps, presidentially, needed to do it himself. the president took essentially, in this first debate, a pretty defensive posture in the sense that he was saying -- okay, things aren't perfect. but you can't trust that guy. and if that's the strategy that
you're going to adopt, you have to be prepared to use specifics to carry out that strategy. if, in fact, mitt romney's numbers don't add up. if he doesn't want to say what deductions he wants to get rid of or what loopholes he wants to close, it's up to the president to ask that specifically. and not just say -- generally, he's not telling you the whole story. but to ask him. ask the man. ask the man across from you. you want to be president. tell us, specifically, what you want to do. chris, you said before the debate tonight, you said that if you got a calvary, you got to use it. you don't stay in the fort. >> what's what i said. the calvary come out of the fort and fight the indians. >> tonight, though, barack obama stayed inside the fort for the most part. >> yeah. he was looking out through the hole. >> he really did. >> he thought somebody else was going to fight the fight. >> maybe you don't want to do this because you're a fellow member of the democratic party
but the question is, how do you win a debate if you don't fight it. >> i think you do have to fight it. i think the president, from my vantage point and again, i didn't see it on tv, i saw the barack obama that i've seen over the last four years is somebody that's been consistent about the policies. consistent in the way he describes his health care stuff. consistent in what he said he believes that romney's positions don't add up. and he did call him, maybe too generally, on the question of the deductions and that stuff. for my part i don't think mitt romney has earned the ability to be as vague as he is on all of these things since he's changed his position on all of them. >> here's the problem for those who think this is an intellectual discussion on c-span. today the new poll came out cbs, 56%. the 13%, the die-hards. they were going to say he looked
better. >> the big question is, why? i think if the president cares as passionately about his vision as he says, if he believes in it as deeply as he does, then he needs to defend it more forcefully and specifically than he did tonight. it almost seemed like he was irritated that the fact that things were being questioned. >> and i thought he got -- if he had stepped back the first time the guy said i people about people on social security. he should have said, 47% of the krif is a bunch of moochers. before i came along, 40 million people had no health care. they were all herded into the e.r. and that's where they would be there if it wasn't for me and the people helped me do it and that's where you are. you want to go back to the e.r. how dare you say we have contending or offering different health care plans. one gay has it and one guy doesn't. >> i'm going to say, look -- i'm acting like the moderator here.
>> i think you make a very important point. i think from the that very moment and i remember making a note on a piece of person about this, when romney went there with that personal anecdote, i don't think the obama team really expected that. i think they'll really expected this guy to come in and do one-liners and zingers and they took the bait. they took the predebate bait that was vetted out there by the romney team that mitt romney was going to come in there and do zingers. 04 or 55% of the poll thought romney would get wiped all over the floor by obama. they took the bait and he came in there with not just the substance but the style of the president to do the job. >> seamless, too. >> anyway, let me show this. romney tonight said he would not reduce taxes for the wealthiest americans which took most of our breath away. let's take a look here. >> i know that you and your running mate keep saying that and i know it's a popular thing
to say with a lot of people but it's not the case. look, i got five boys and i'm used to people saying something that's not always true but keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping i'll it but that's not the case. i will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income americans and number three. i will not, under any circumstances, raise taxes on middle-income families. >> well, he wants to reduce the top rate from 35% to 28%. he wants to reduce the corporate rate from 35 to 25. he wants to eliminate the estate tax and looks at him and he says, i'm not helping the rich. >> we had a vote on the floor of the senate that would have extended the tax cuts for people making $250,000 or less. and it was opposed by the republicans because it didn't cut taxes for the richest americans. and mitt romney agreed that that was the position. look, here's what i would say. >> just because it's a tax cut -- >> beyond discussion about the debate itself, i doubt very much
that the american people are going to have a different judgment about who's getting up every morning thinking about the middle class. who's got a plan that's more aligned to their interests. and who understands what they're going through every day. i don't think this debate changed that at all. >> but i think the american people still wake up and wonder about the president's plan for the next four years. the president has not articulated and tonight would have been a great night to do it, what the next four years look like. don't answer if you're better off. tell me what the next four years will look like under your leadership in a positive way. he did not make the case for his own re-election. >> i think that hurt. his lack of doing that hurt him in this kind of situation and i think that romney's summation at the end, when he ticked off the unemployment rate and ticked off the poverty rate and mortgage rate. he ticked off the kids not getting jobs. i thought it was devastating. it was devastating and romney
waited until the end to do it. and a fuselage at the end which i thought was very, very effective. >> president obama argued the tax plan was a rehash of the george w. bush but that's a fact. >> the approach governor romney is talking about it is the same sales pitch made in 2001 and 2003. and we ended up with the slowest job growth in 50 years. we ended up moving from surplus to deficits. and it all culminated in the worst financial crisis since the great depression. and bill clinton tried the approach i'm talking about. we created 23 million new jobs. we went from deficit to surplus. and businesses did very well. >> you know what i hear and i hear it in the president's speeches, he's still working the interest groups rather than selling a national plan. he keeps talking about more teachers. he doesn't necessarily push education he pushes more
teachers and he'll refurbish the school buildings. grant it the aft like it maybe your people like it but it isn't a national plan for economic development and tonight they said what's your difference and that's all he could come up with is something about the teachers. where's the national macroeconomic plan to get us out of these doldrums. >> i think he talks about education in a much different way as well. and not just talk about. he's done it. he talked about the "race to the top" tonight. as a former urban school superintendent that's done more to reform schools across the country than anything else the federal government has ever done but there needs to be more than that as well. he's talked about manufacturing and tax policy that's rewarding job growth and wage growth in the united states. that's what the people that i represent want after two decades of declining median family income they'd like to see some economic growth and wage and growth and they believe he's more capable of delivering that than others.
he's not the flashiest politician in the world. he's had his nose to the grindstone for four years. >> all of the sudden romney looked like a flash where politician tonight. >> anyway, thank you michael, and lovely weather out here, until about an hour ago. howard fineman, thank you and the great michael steele. coming up, did romney get a game-change moment? he came prepared and scored major points pushing the moderator aside in coming the debate and the instant polls play that out. he's getting good numbers. this is msnbc's live coverage of the first presidential debate. >> as president i'll sit down on day one, actualbly, the day after i get elected i'll sit down with the democratic leaders as well as republican leaders. >> first of all i think governor romney is going to have a busy first day which he's also going to repeal obama care which won't be very popular among democrats as you're sitting down with them.
>> all americans are getting the opportunity. we're all going to be better off. that doesn't restrict people's freedom. that enhances it. >> we've got some instant numbers about who won and it was clearly mitt romney's night. look at the cbs flash poll of undecided voters. 46% said romney's the winner. 26% said obama. registered voters had a wider margin of 67% said romney won and 25% said obama won. and in fact, clearly the challenger seemed prepared
tonight, studied and ready to go on the attack. two experts, mark halperin and "the washington post", eugene washington. and joy reed, and our msnbc political analysts. one at a time. who came with the plan who didn't? >> obviously, romney came with a plan and he was the aggressor. you can leher was not going to interpose himself and romney took over. i think it would have been incumbent on obama to step up if hechted to stop that and he did not. and i think what this threatens to do is re-open the enthusiasm gap of partizans of each candidate. afterwards, republicans are delighted and democrats are a bit depressed. >> i know he doesn't believe in his religion, any kind of intoxicants or obviously, or any kind of caffeine. he was the mormon equivalent of caffeinated on the. he was up and gung-how. he relished the occasion.
obama was like, is this freaking thing over yet? >> i think he reported he ordered from the cheesecake factory. lots of sugar. so that might have been it. he did a lot of things well. i think the most important thing in terms of impacting with race is he revved up the base without a doubt. >> and even the tenth amendment stuff. >> you can go to any conservative in the country and they're saying, not just because he won but he hit a lot of their buttons and simultaneously in style and as you substance appealed to disinterested voters and he needs to rally the base but he needs -- >> governor romney was able to talk about examples of people he talked to over and over again. i met this guy here and this person there. i know it was -- i think it probably worked. >> you know what, chris? i sort of disagree with you. i think what we saw was one candidate whose goal was -- the obama strategy was keep things and freeze the race the way it is.
he's ahead. the other candidate's goal was he needed to move this race. he's needed a game-changing sort of direction in the change of the race so romney came in very aggressive. in some places i think, kind of overcaffeinated. kind of wullying jiem heher but i think he revved up his own base but the problem is, that's to what he needs to do. he need to win new people over so i think the likability issue wasn't solved although i think it was clear that he came to fight and barack obama came to do sort of rope-a-dope and keep things the way they are. >> look at this exchange. romney didn't just take on the president he also went after the moderator and won in terms of doing what he wanted to do. let's look at romney. >> jim, the president began this segment so i think i get the last word so i'm going to take sight this you get the first word in the next segment. >> he gets the first word of this segment and i get the last word of that segment. i'll make the comment. i'm sorry, jiem, i like pbs.
i like big bird and i like you too but i'm not going to keep on spending money from things to borrow money from china to pay for it. >> let's get back to medicare. the president said he can provide the service at a lower cost at a lower profit. let me mention the other one. wlets talk. >> no, let's not. let's let him respond to this specific dodd frank and what the governor just said. >> gene? >> this was a tangle if guy seemed to win every team. they never discussed the auto industry. >> they didn't discuss the auto industry chen me talked about tax reform. romney was asked, what deductions are you going to get rid of. home mortgage deduction? no specifics.
if jim wasn't going to ask the follow-up question. >> he didn't ask any follow-up questions. >> so the president should have asked those questions, i think. >> joy, try this. you mentioned the president came in there to sort of, you know, clinch, if you will, keep the score even and don't overstate anything and don't make it too exciting. but once he saw the direction of the evening wifgs pretty apparent about 20 minutes in, couldn't he have adjusted and said, this guy is here loaded for barry better get more aggressive and he's going to win on points and this could give him a real head of steam and i don't want that to happen? >> i think it depends. president obama was not going to sacrifice his likability to score a knockout blow against romney. that scene was like an unpleasant board meeting people have sat through. that was not likable. i didn't think those, minuteses finest moments. i thought he came across bullying. i thought 1y50ir78 leher terrible. i thought the debate was not led in the direction that talked about the auto industry about mcbain capital.
i thought he could have put in a performance like that but he would have hurt his own likability. that was not a good look the sequences for mitt snooze and a big disconnect, a parallel universe. you on the morning show, you hear it a lot and around the network, all the other cable networks, we argue day-to-day in a war room environment. we know what each side is saying and we're always aware of the points and we know what romney is saying day-to-day. it seemed like all three people was not aware of what romney was saying day-to-day and one was well aware but he didn't want to bring it up. like nothing happened tonight in the world we were living in. >> so it was understandable that romney would be selective about which of his positions hold 'em size which he would conveniently forget and which he would,
frankly, reverse in mid debate. but if you can do that, if you can get away with it, i understand why he did it. he was allowed to. >> he just said -- how does this appeal to the right wing 37 this is health care. the president says, if nothing else happens to this president we know for health care this is what he did. here's what the chamger said tonight -- if i'm elected we won't have to rephrase obama care. we'll have the kind of principals i put in place in my own state. what does that mean? >> it means from his point of view there's other principles about romney care he believes in. trying to control costs. trying to figure out ways to deliver health care more efficiently. >> isn't the main principle the individual mandate. >> and he doesn't want that top-down. but, chris a bunch of things he said on taxes, medicare, romney care, that fact checkers will go to town on and they should. he should be called out for things he said that aren't strictly accurate. look at the polls of what people
thought. what democrats are privately unhappy and look at the reality, until the rematch, two weeks, the president is in the barrel of having to deal with the fallout of tonight. but the fact checks matter but so does style and so does governor romney's ability. the thing we haven't mentioned that's most important. he started this stride and never lost it and in mitt romney a very few people have seen. perfectly likable mostly. calm and a tone of voice you don't normally hear him. >> i thought hoefrs commanding. >> i didn't think it was likable. i will say he was definitely better prepared. the president maybe needed a shot of caffei >> ilike what you said about the boardroom. that may well be right. it worked. he pushed everybody around. thank you, mark. >> a question about gender, did he win about -- >> we got to go right now. joy, thank you, mark and aye gene. coming up, we have our own focus group of undecided voters and we'll talk to them next about how they scored tonight's
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continuing coverage of the first presidential debate. reaction tonight from the exchanging. nbc news correspondent who is here in denver with what we call a focus group of people that he put together. a group of a eight people. four men and four women, ethnic liddy verse between the ages of 17 and 59. all came this teefg undecided an all wraej stered voters and all from colorado. what's the reaction, ron? >> well, i think the headline of the night, chris, ask that they were all favorably impressed by mitt romney. is it fair to say you all saw something you never saw before? >> yes. >> you said it well. you think the race will be a light tighter and different. why? what did you see in mitt snz. >> i felt like his major criticism leading up to point was his lack of specificity and i think he did a great job of putting that to shame especially compared to the way president obama ze baited. much more specific.
and, so, i think that that was kind of a major, mayor down side to his campaign which he turned around. >> tim, you voted for republicans and democrats over the years and voted for obama last time. now you said you're leaning in the other direction. whooi? >> probably two reasons. the economy was headed down the hill and i saw obama bringing the change. now four years have passed and i've been very disappointed in the campaign promises and what he delivered. >> go of the people leaning towards obama is -- this is the vote obama is trying to run up. you said, angelina, you were leaning toward obama because of likability things. explain that to me. what did you see that you liked? >> as i president, i want to be able to connect with him and have a personal connection and i feel like specifically, with this debate obama did that better than romney did. >> what did he do specifically that you liked?
>> he looked at the camera and looked at the audience and into all the homes across the country and children and elderly people watching him and that meant a lot to me. >> karina, you said that before, you don't know any millionaires. so you liked what obama was talking about? >> yes, referring to the middle class and education and how that's going to help. >> so you thought on the substance you preferred obama? >> yes. >> now, the other thing, chris, we can tell you is that nobody here is willing to commit. anybody want to commit? raise their hand and say, i'll vote for one or the other fwhooir no? why not? juan, you said believability. you had a lot of problems believing both of them? >> i tend to approach it that way. like who's lying to me last. going back and punching out the numbers and trying to get a feel. >> so this was really an uplifting experience for you? >> yes. >> i think chris has some questions, chris, are you there?
>> let me be tough on the groupnd play hard ball with the group. aisle be different. what do you read? what newspapers do you read? how do you keep up with the news and you're still undecided. most people reed newspapers and watch news shows and sort of form an opinion over time. it's been four years with obama. how many years do you have to have of him before you make up your mind. there's a lot of information out there. how do you folks get yours? >> jess, why don't you take. >> definitely, i try to -- in today's society i get most of minus through the internet so i typically look at bbc, "new york times", "washington post" -- >> but you still don't think you have enough information? >> there's a lot of information out there and i think most of us agree that really, they've both got good ideas and great candidates but what it comes down to is, which plan the is better for america. ultimately, i'm leaning towards romney but there's still a couple more debates left and --
>> keira you said you don't have enough information. you're a kindergarten teacher here in the denver area. not enough information? there's so much out there. we've been campaigning for a year. >> finding the information that youch can connect with and the information that you can and i'm still looking for that. >> chris, what else? >> what do you want to know martha you don't know about mr. romney that you're suspicious about something that concerns you about him, that concerns you about the president and you would like to have clarified? >> well, bailey, you wanted to know about that $5 trillion tax cut? >> they went back and forth and i mean, either one of them is right, neither of them are right, i don't know. it's not like that's what it all boils down to but it is nice to know, in the a debate like that that's so important, what is correct because they both blamed each other a lot. >> who's going to tell you? >> you weren't even leaning. what do you need to hear? what do you need to hear from one candidate or the other or what's missing in. >> i would have have to hear the
other side. i want to hear what academics have to say. i want to hear more of what romney says about if he's taking away dodd frank what is he going to implement and i want to see how it's been done in the past. >> didn't he give you enough specifics. >> 450es a graduate student in finance. you might have gather had in. >> no. he really didn't. he just said the same thing as, obama said, as americans with we agree. we need more regulation in the financial industry when it comes to risk. they both said the same thing. none of them said exactly what they wanted to do with it. >> maybe we're letting him off easy. >> tough crowd, rye yen. >> they're tough. but, again, the headline, they were impressed by romney and they're having their doubts about obama. much of what i'm hearing you saying, we tried to keep them away from the punditry and we didn't hear much of it at all but essentially they believed romney more and they thought he really said some things tonight
they hadn't heardnd saw a different side of him and, again, i think the headline from here is the race is going to be a lot tighter and romney had a big night. >> it's a good focus group. congratulations you seem to represent the country right now. you're a small group and you're our america. coming up, what is ohio senator have to say after tonight's debate. he played obama in romney's debate prep. did it go as planned? i assume it did. the fires presidential debate live coverage. >> seem ory, jim, i'm stopping the subsidy to pbs. i like pbs. ilike big bird and i actually like you too but i'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from china to pay for it.
>> the choicetion we made have been ones that ultimately are benefitting the middle class families all across the country. >> we're back to denver, the site of tonight's first presidential debate between president obama and mitt romney. earlier tonight our commentator, lawrence o'donnell talked with rob portman who played president
obama during the romney's debate prep. >> senator portman, you played president obama in the debate prep sessions with governor romney. what were you surprised by president obama's performance tonight? did he do what you were doing in the debate prep? >> i thought he seemed a little uncomfortable, to be honest. i think as president you're not used to getting asked questions whether it's by jim lehrer or lawrence o'donnell. i think the next debate, the town hall format the president will do a good job. this was the first debate and i thought governor romney clearly laid out the different -- the okay candidates and importantly for you were decided voters ohio and elsewhere, what he will do differently. this is only the first of three debates. another one coming up in a couple weeks and then one after that, so, we'll see what happens. i think tonight the dynamic of the race changes.
because i thought, governor romney did so well, he was able to, again, talk about the future and in persuade undecided voters but there are three debates. >> i talked to david axelrod and others in the obama campaign who believe the voucher discussion of medicare in this debate is what they think was the most important thing for their campaign. that though clarified that governor romney favors a voucher system and they believe they delivered that message in this debate tonight. do you think that that was something that was damaging to governor romney? >> i don't, lawrence. i feel opposite, in fact. i think a lot of seniors having heard the ads from the obama campaign and other groups probably think they're at risk. i think mitt romney did a really good job playing out probably, three tiles, once or twice, at least, it doesn't affect seniorers currently on medicare at all and in fact, it doesn't affect folks near medicare. for those who are younger than that don't have a choice. they can stay on that additional
medicare or go to private plans and i think that gives a lot of people more comfort. this won't affect them in any negative way and give them more choice. as he said you don't have to be in the plan the government is offering. you can try a private plan that you might like better so i thought that was a good point for governor romney because it explained to people for the first time in many cases, what the choices are. >> will you be doing more debate prep sessions with governor romney? >> sure. i think both john kerrynd i will. he's a colleague of mine. we joke about doing our own debate, me playing obama and him playing romney. i think right through the third debate there will be some sessions. >> what would you say to the governor in terms of what to expect in the next debate. president obama is going to clearly look at what he did and governor romney is going to look at what he did and irrelevant will be a different format next time around. what would you advise governor romney too expect next time? >> i think it's a good format for president obama, the town
hall format. he did a good job four years ago with john mccain. on the other hand, i think that mitt romney does a good job in format also. he's had a number of town hall meetings. both the republican primary and since. but he should expect president obama to be an effective communique' tore in a town hall type of setting. >> are you disappointed you won't be there? you came so close. >> no, no. i'm fortunate to be in the united states senate. i never thought i'd get there. it's a critical time for our country and one thing that came out tonight that was probably as important as the policy discussions is the fact that we need to figure out how to find the same ground. i think governor romney understands you got to find solutions. >> senator portman, thainch. >> good luck. >> thank you. >> all right, thanks to lawrence o'donnell for that great interview with senator rob portman, a sparring partner and an effective one. previewing tomorrow's
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>> obama care is on my list. i use that term with all respect. good, i'll get rid of that. >> welcome back to msnbc's live coverage or continuing coverage of the first presidential debate. it's already over and it's already thursday thousand, october 4th on the squoes and what will be the headline in tomorrow morning's papers, the morning papers. tonight's debate will get covered heavily. victoria francisco de soto is here and jonathanal ders, a great historian and msnbc political analyst for lindbergh view and we have robert, the is somewhat troubled reporter. and cnbc contributor. gentlemen, i start, i think you're a bit triumphant. what's the headline. the journal, the times, "the washington post", how will they all play this on the front page? >> romney won but the real headline -- >> the conservative media will be romney surprises everybody.
a lot of people didn't they he would come out punching tonight. best performance of his political career. really surpriseded the conservatives that didn't they he had the bite or the aggression to go after the president. >> what do you think it was, victoria that made him different. >> he did the turn-around expert. he said in been a he turns them around. with the olympics he pumped it around. he turned the election around. >> it was the president who was flat. >> i'm amazed at his self-confidence in addressing the president. i don't think he was condescending but he was a peer and he looked the president in the eye and added him respectfully and gave limb a woernd comment for his anniversary. i liked it. nothing wrong with it but boy was it self-confident. >> you have to be a self-confident guy and he crossed a certain threshold tonight and plausibility in being the next president. we don't though whether yet if it's a turn-around. we helped him but we don't know how much. i think he probably has to go 3-0 in this debate to win this election.
>> he stopped the bleeding. >> doing well tonight, as well as he did, could create real momentum for next week's vice-presidential debate and by the way, what's the format tonight we're criticizing about jim lehrer and the next format is more do theic. you're meeting with the people and your empathy is very important. using their personalities rather than yours to develop your point. that might be more to obama's liking. >> one thing romney was great at tonight -- >> it better be. >> romney was good. he got in the personal stories we heard from the trail. when he gets to the town hall he's going to have to do more about just talk with people he met and he has to engage. that's a different level. >> 1992, obama used to go back and look at the per perrot and clinton and he has that strength. he's a connector so we need to see him press the flesh and sell the smile.
>> can you majts what that was like? >> it's the missed opportunity. would any political consultant will tell you is that you have to align your paid media with your free media. a debate is free media. his paid media is all about bane, the dream act, the auto industry rescue. right on down the looirn. in the paid media, none of them were mentioned except in passing. >> here's a good bipartisan question. why don't you take the messages of your paid media and use them in the debate? >> jonathan is so right. gm bailout helped obama win ohio in the polls. where was the message? >> in passing. that's the key. in passing. >> there was the lovefest of states rights but we didn't talk about the dark side of state's rights like when rights get infringed on with women, immigrants and poor folks. so that lovefest. >> different obama a little
credit. in the last half hour he seemed to wake up. sleep for the first hour and in the last half hour -- trouble is the conservative guy did well. obama did score on medicare vouchers. >> why does he have a coherent set of paragraphs like romney did. that basically make his case for what he's doing with the economy. sure he says nice things about teachers and some other stuff. infrastructure in a vague way but there was no boom, boom, boom. romney had that five-point plan to start with. it was effective. and then another five points. >> the preparation wasn't good enough. it wasn't that they didn't practice enough they didn't have a strategy for the debate. >> and they needed to execute -- >> all three of you one at a time. what do you think romney went in there to do tonight? what was his plan? >> his plan was to seem more moderate. to seem more specific. remember, he knew he'd be under attack for not being specific enough. and be being kind of wonky, he kind of blunted that attack of
the president. and he also needed to seem confident and presidential and he achieved that. obama did not achieve his objectives. >> what was romney's plan. >> i saw a human side. for the first time i saw a human side. he came out of the gate, i knew this woman. this is her story. we haven't seen this. >> for a guy called "mr. boring" he wanted to overwhelm the president with liveliness and with policy and i don't think the president was prepared for that. >> what did obama have for strategy besides endurance. >> i think obama's strategy was to come in and have his talk and it sounded like his convention speech but he wasn't ready to engage. but romney was ready point by point. >> you can put down the theatricals. why did obama look down the whole team? >> no. i think it got to a point you can see the anger and annoyians in his face and rather than show the annoyians he looks down. >> what do you have expect. wrom any's been pounding him for five years. >> he had to be hurt.
>> the reason that he was clinching his teeth and try nothing the to react is his strategy going into this debate is do nothing to hurt your likability image. that's ace ace in the hole. >> but romney helped his likability by being tough. >> roib didn't engage more because he didn't want to be seen as beating up on romney. >> and he had to be presidential at the same time. >> mr. james layer would be. my thanks to all of you. we'll be right back here with one week from tomorrow for the vice-presidential debate. joe biden, paul ryan. thanks for being us with tonight. good night from denver.